OUR SURROGACY TEAM
The mission behind SurrogateFirst
SurrogateFirst is composed 100% of former Intended Parents and experienced Surrogates who truly empathize with your current journey and who are here to serve you. We educate, lead and guide you through your journey with expertise, compassion, respect, and personal attention at all times. Our goal is to WOW you with our approach so your journey in surrogacy is exceptional in every way.
The Core Values We Live By
- Delight IPs & Surrogates
- Go the Extra Mile
- We Over Deliver
“I started my surrogacy journey not really knowing what to expect. SurrogateFirst set the bar pretty high and I am so grateful they are the agency I went with.”
Compassion & Expertise
- People You Can Trust
- Highly Experienced Team
- Honest & Transparent
“SurrogateFirst was great the entire time. I loved how they got to know my family and treated us in a professional but family-oriented way.”
- Available 24/7
- Exceptional Customer Service
- Over Communicate
“I loved how I could reach my Case Manager at any time. I always knew exactly where things stood in my journey which was so reassuring.”
Lina Li, Founder
My journey started out like most intended parents with the inability to conceive accompanied by many failed IVF cycles leaving my husband and I emotionally and financially spent. During our 6 year journey across 4 countries and numerous failed IVF cycles, we were finally blessed by our Surrogate with healthy twins. We are forever grateful to our Surrogate and those that guided us through our journey.
Since 2009, I have consulted thousands of couples through their IVF cycles and have successfully guided over 200+ Intended Parents and Surrogates, from around the world, in their surrogate journeys. From this experience and my belief that everyone should have the opportunity to be a parent, I founded SurrogateFirst to meet the growing demands for transparency and professionalism in the world of surrogacy. SurrogateFirst’s entire team consists of experienced Surrogates and Intended Parents who serve our clients with expertise, compassion, respect and genuine love. We are excited and honored to assist you in your journey!
Prior to guiding Intended Parents in their surrogate journeys, I founded Atomic Recruitment in 2003 where I served as a Human Resources expert, finding and matching executive talent for F500 companies. We were able to grow to 200 employees across 5 offices in China. Everyday I bring the same determination of never giving up and quest for perfection to provide professionalism to our Surrogates and Intended Parents.
Jeffrey Hu, Director
As an intended parent struggling for almost a decade to start a family I intimately understand the challenges (and joy) of navigating the surrogacy journey. I find great joy and accomplishment working at SurrogateFirst with truly caring and dedicated professionals. At SurrogateFirst I lead our marketing efforts and business operations to ensure an excellent experience for all that come across our services - either potential surrogates, intended parents or professional partners. I have over 20 years in the service industry building and managing teams with great shared culture and values. I look forward to working with you in starting (or expanding) your family one blessing at a time!
Ashley Mareko, Surrogate Program Director
Aloha, I’m Ashley Mareko, the Surrogate Program Director here at Surrogate First. I have the honor of helping our clients through the clearance process and finding the right match for Intended Parents and Surrogates. I am a three-time surrogate who has traveled halfway across the world to visit my surrogate families I helped. I never imagined working in this field but cannot picture myself anywhere else. I was one of the first surrogates to sign with SurrogateFirst and the first official employee aside from our amazing founders.
Being born and raised in Hawai'i instilled the importance of Ohana (family) and the concept of Hanai (adoption/foster). Growing up in Hawai'i, it was not uncommon for family members to raise each other children or friend's children. Family is Family in Hawai'i no matter how your family came to be. This value has been written in my heart, and as an adult, when my husband and I dealt with secondary infertility, I realized the pain others who suffer from infertility go through. I learned about surrogacy and knew this is what I could do to help others. I have since helped two families bring three sweet babies earthside.
I love working with SurrogateFirst. While it is not always rainbows and unicorns, watching families grow through IVF and surrogacy has been a blessing. The foundation that SurrogateFirst is built on is what I searched for in a company all my life. Our founders treat us with love and respect while pushing us to achieve a higher standard and grow personally and professionally. Problem-solving gets me excited, and when dealing with people and surrogacy, there is a high chance that as an agency, we will need to step in to solve, correct, or put out a fire with little time to spare. The goal is to allow Intended Parents and Surrogates to concentrate on their relationship and pregnancy, not worry about providers and problems. SurrogateFirst’s heart to help educate, support, and fight for our clients feeds my servant heart and brings confidence that I am doing the right thing for all clients I work with. I am thankful for the lifetime friends and family that have grown from the journeys I have been part of. One of the most significant benefits of working for SurrogateFirst is that I work remotely and have the freedom to travel. My husband and Daughter have health issues, and I can travel to specialists and give my family the best quality of life. As my role expands with SurrogateFirst; our family is heading out onto the road to meet our clients and share surrogacy with communities country-wide. Follow my social media handles to see where I am going next; and maybe we can grab a coffee or lunch!
Kelly Gaspar, Surrogate Intake Specialist
Aloha! I am Kelly Gaspar, Surrogate Intake Specialist at SurrogateFirst, and I am in charge of requesting medical records for the wonderful candidates applying to become a surrogate. I work with the applicants to identify who their OB’s and hospitals were and then request copies of the records which will be used to verify internally and with intended parents IVF Clinics that an applicant is a viable option for surrogacy. I am always available to walk our applicants through the medical record screening process.
I was introduced to the “world” of surrogacy while watching my daughter provide the gift of life through surrogacy to another family. To know that she was able to answer their prayers and dreams to grow their family, and see the joy of the new parents, stirred up a desire to also be of assistance. I am blessed to experience the growth of many families everyday, and even make new family and friends along the way!
I have a beautiful family, my children are all grown and have their own families and are between Las Vegas, California, and Hawaii. I love to spend my time travelling between those places to spend time with (and spoil) my grandchildren.
Mirjam Johns, Surrogate Intake Specialist
Hello, I am Mirjam Johns, an Intake Specialist at SurrogateFirst. Born and raised in Germany, I came to the US at age 21 and therefore fluent German. As a military spouse and an experienced surrogate, I am prepared to share my experience with other military spouses on the path to being a surrogate. Preparing for my first journey was very overwhelming and I found myself needing lots of advice and help, which essentially led me to my career in surrogacy to help others navigate the process stress free. As a military spouse of 19 years, navigating challenging times and obstacles is a daily routine for me and allows me to assist others efficiently. My husband and children, three young boys, are my upmost priority in life. My family has learned to share my passion for surrogacy and the desire to help another family.
Ich bin ein Aufnahmespezialist bei SurrogateFirst. Ich bin in Deutschland geboren und aufgewachsen und bin im Alter von 21 Jahren in die USA gezogen. Ich bin eine Militär-Ehefrau, Mutter zu 3 Jungs, und eine erfahrende Leihmutter. Während meiner Vorbereitungen für meine erste Leihmutterschaft habe ich viel Hilfe und Antworten gebraucht. Das hat mich letztendlich dazu geführt in diesem Bereich auch professionel zu arbeiten, um einen stressfreien Prozess für Wunscheltern und Leihmütter möglich zu machen. Da ich seit 19 Jahren eine Militär-Ehefrau bin, bin ich es gewöhnt Hindernisse und Schwerigkeiten zu überwältigen und ich geniesse es anderen das Leben leichter zu machen. Mein Ehemann und meine Kinder sind meine absolute Priorität in meinem Leben, und teilen meine Leidenschaft für Leihmutterschaft und den Wunsch einer anderen Familie zu helfen.
Maxime Lebouteiller, Intake Intended Parent Coordinator
Maxime is the Intended Parent Coordinator for SurrogateFirst for all its European clients. Maxime is originally from Paris, France completing high school in the US before acquiring his business degree in France. Before SurrogateFirst, he worked for 4 years in the field of surrogacy helping couples through surrogacy. As the Intended Parent Intake Coordinator, he enjoys helping people around the world make their dream of becoming parents come true.
He loves working closely with families, solving problems and helping them understand the different steps of the journey. His many years of experience working in Customer Service combined with her ability to understand people from different cultures helps Max manage the various aspects of the complicated process of surrogacy
When he is not at work, Maxime enjoys spending time with his family and friends, playing music or participating in various artistic activities.
Maxime a grandi à Paris, France, et venu vivre aux États-Unis il y a 10 ans. Il a terminé ses études secondaires et a étudié a l’école de commerce l’INSEEC.
Avant de travailler avec SurrogateFirst, il a travaillé pendant 4 ans avec une autre agence GPA aidant les couples à travers leur projet de famille. Il a travaillé en étroite collaboration avec les familles, résolvant les problèmes et les aidant à comprendre les différentes étapes du processus. Ses nombreuses années d'expérience dans le service à la clientèle combinées à sa capacité à comprendre des personnes de différentes cultures aident Maxime à gérer les divers aspects du processus compliqué de GPA. En tant que coordonnateur de parents d'intention, il aime aider les gens du monde entier à réaliser leur rêve de devenir parents.
Lorsqu'il n'est pas au travail, Maxime aime passer du temps avec sa famille et ses amis, jouer de la musique ou pratiquer diverses activités artistiques.
Tristen LaRue, Case Management Specialist
Hello, I’m Tristen LaRue, executing case management at SurrogateFirst. My husband I live in Lake Havasu City, AZ with our two daughters and two pups. As a family, we enjoy traveling, taking our boat on the lake, just being fun and not taking life (or ourselves) too seriously.
My path to the surrogacy world began when three of my very best friends were all struggling to conceive. One of them made a comment, “Well if I can get pregnant soon, I guess you’ll just have to carry my baby for me!” Although she wasn’t ready to take the surrogacy route, that exact moment is what triggered me to begin researching and learning about what is takes to become a gestational carrier. In 2018, I was officially matched with a beautiful international couple and in 2019 I delivered their son. I feel so honored to have been able to be a part of growing their family and still keep in touch with them regularly.
Throughout my own journey I found that I really had a passion for learning more about surrogacy and it became a goal of mine to help others understand the “why” and “how” behind becoming a surrogate. Through pursuing this goal, I had the incredible opportunity to join SurrogateFirst in Feb 2021 as a Case Manager. In my role as a Case Manager I am here alongside Intended Parents and Surrogates. I assist them in all steps throughout their journey from just after their match meeting, medical clearance, legal, pregnancy and through the 4thtrimester (post birth) ensuring a beautiful, positive and supportive experience from beginning to completion.
I look forward to the opportunity of working closely with you to make your hopes a reality!
Tiffany Salter, Intake Recruitment
Hi! I am Tiffany Salter, Wife, Mom of 4 and Intake Specialist helping to coordinate and recruit here at SurrogateFirst. Matching families and educating others about surrogacy is the most rewarding job I could have. I am so blessed to be a part of each and every journey. I love that working here gives me the opportunity to bring the perfect matches together for their journey. Getting to see the end result and helping someone bring a baby in the world is so amazing and rewarding. It doesn't get any better!
After we completed our family, I knew I wanted to help someone that struggled to have their own children. Watching friends struggle with infertility was tough to see and opened my eyes to the struggles many face. One of the most amazing moments of my life was witnessing my intended parents see their baby take her first breaths. It's worth the long journey and not so fun parts of pregnancy.
I am a mom of four, so my hobbies include my children's activities. My oldest barrel races, so we love to travel all over to her events and support/cheer her on. We have a mini farm and my children just love their animals and learning about them all. I never pass up an opportunity for a beach trip or time to read a good book!
Joyce Wheeler, Case Management Specialist
Hello, I'm Joyce Wheeler, three-time Gestational Surrogate and Case Manager here at SurrogateFirst. My husband and I met while in junior high and settled down in the Midwest. I began researching Surrogacy after my first son was born in 2009. I had witnessed how infertility affected a close family member and knew I wanted to be able to help. In 2013, after giving birth to our daughter and completing our own family, I began actively searching for a family to help. As fate would have it, I birthed two precious babies in 2016 for my husband's relatives. In 2018, I birthed a beautiful little girl into the arms of her Intended Fathers. I am currently carrying a little boy for an amazing couple, and he is set to arrive this coming summer of 2022. Being a Gestational Surrogate has been one of my greatest honors. As a Case Manager I can assist Gestational Carriers and their Intended Parents as they work together to create a family. I strive for the best possible outcome for all involved and take great pride in my role.
Karina Hofacker, Surrogate Intake Coordinator
Hello! My name is Karina Hofacker, I am an Intake Coordinator here at Surrogate First! My job is to recruit and guide new potential surrogates through the beginning steps of their journey. To educate and be 'their person' for the exciting steps they are making towards being a surrogate!
A little about me, we currently live on a small island off Florida, our little slice of heaven! My husband and I had our 4 beautiful whirlwind kids while he was in the military. So I know the difficulty and joy a new beginning can bring. That is one of the reasons I was so blessed to be able to give 2 wonderful families their own new beginnings, as a gestational surrogate, when I had two little boys. I couldn't have asked for better journeys and would love to share everything I can about the amazing world of Surrogacy!
Elizabeth Casey, Case Management
My journey into surrogacy started when I was a single mom, working full-time & a full-time college student. I met another surrogate at church and thought, "I love being pregnant, I would love to do that!" I immediately started my first journey and knew I had found my calling. Each of my four journeys has been with a new family and a beautifully rewarding experience for everyone involved. The moment a baby is placed in its parents arms, knowing you helped make their dream come true - time stands still, it is unforgettable, indescribable, and honestly addicting (and why many surrogates including myself come back for "just one more!”) The connections with parents, the "belly-buddies" I helped bring earth side, & the joy that is created in this process is what it is all about. I have been through the highs (and some heartbreaking lows) that come along with fertility, which has given me the empathy, compassion, and understanding for each person involved. I am beyond blessed to now get to use my expertise to help walk with Intended Parents and Surrogates on their journey as well.”
Corry Matthews, M.S. - Healthy Lifestyle Expert
Corry Matthews is a champion coach who inspires people to live life with more energy, endurance, and vitality. A Professional Athlete with the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness, she leverages her Masters Degree in Sports Medicine, Bachelors in Exercise Physiology, and 10+ certifications in Nutrition and Exercise Science to create winning strategies for her clients. Corry is the Co-Author of 9 Months In, 9 Months Out – a holistic pregnancy book.
Stacia Kelly, Ph.D. - Holistic Health Advisor
Dr. Stacia Kelly is a Master Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a PhD in Holistic Health. She is a black belt and Certified Self Defense Instructor. She has a calming voice, brings peace and balance to people in high stress situations and into everyday life. Her clients are able to enjoy less stress and maintain an even better balance in their lives. Stacia is the Co-Author of 9 Months In, 9 Months Out, in addition to other fiction and non-fiction books.
V.K. Intended Parent, September 2019
"Ashley Mareko has been there for me from doctor appointments, helping me out with paperwork, and by having someone to talk about stressful situations. SurrogateFirst has made this journey so effortless. The support they provide surrogates along the journey is immeasurable and this journey wouldn’t have been what it is without them."
U.J. Surrogate, September 2019
"My last and final journey went so well and I truly believe SurrogateFirst was a major factor in that. No hiccups, just love and smiles!! I would highly recommend them to anyone looking to go into this experience and would most definitely choose them again myself!!" SurrogateFirst staff is very knowledgeable of the surrogacy process and always made me feel first and cared for. They are prompt with paperwork and payments, personable, hard-working, and most of all compassionate for your pregnancy experience!"
Surrogate - E. Velazquez
Since I started my journey with surrogate first it has been a blessing to work with Ashley and Lina, they have help me so much. They are are definitely more like family than anything. I do appreciate having them by my side with my whole process. They tell you the whole process from beginning to end. One of the best agencies I have ever heard of.
Surrogate - M. Baldwin
I started my surrogacy journey not really knowing what to expect. SurrogateFirst set the bar pretty high and I am so grateful they are the agency I went with. Ashley Mareko made the entire process feel so much less intimidating than I had expected going into this as a first timer. She answered all my questions and no matter what I needed, she made sure my needs were met. Everything from my transfer day to delivery day and beyond have been celebrated and have made the process feel so special.
Surrogate - E. Kirste
I love this company! All of the employees are so nice!! Ashley Mareko and Tiffany Salter are both so amazing at their jobs! They are so kind and always go above and beyond for me. They always have my best interests at heart and are so supportive. They have made this journey for me so easy. I 100% recommend this company to anyone thinking about surrogacy.